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Rangers aim to close out series vs. Twins with a sweep

Sportsnaut
Jul 8, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Brett Martin (59) and catcher Jonah Heim (28) celebrate after defeating the Minnesota Twins at Globe Life Field. The Rangers won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

A closer by committee approach has worked out so far for the Texas Rangers.

Brett Martin recorded his second career save in the Rangers’ 9-7 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

On Sunday, the Rangers will vie for a sweep of the three-game series.

Dane Dunning (1-6, 4.15 ERA) will start for Texas, while fellow right-hander Dylan Bundy (4-4, 4.50) gets the nod for Minnesota.

Who closes is being determined mostly by matchups, now that Joe Barlow is no longer the first option.

Barlow squandered back-to-back save chances against the Baltimore Orioles, and he’s now converted 13 of 17 opportunities.

“I think it’s fair to take it off his plate for a little bit,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I think he can be a lockdown closer.”

The primary candidates are Martin, Matt Moore and Dennis Santana. Martin recorded his first two career saves in the first two games of the series.

“I just tried to treat it just like any other inning,” Martin said. “I didn’t want to make too much of a big deal about it. I’ve never been in that situation before.”

As the Rangers sort out their closer situation, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has been striving to put his best defensive lineup on the field at the spacious Globe Life Field.

In Friday’s loss, center fielder Byron Buxton made one of the better defensive plays of the season by running down Marcus Semien’s long fly ball at the wall. In the fourth inning, Buxton made a back-handed, sliding catch on the warning track.

“It’s a ballpark (that’s) very challenging to play,” Baldelli told the team’s radio station. “Fast infield. Humongous outfield. You’ve got to make plays here.”

In Saturday’s loss, the defense faltered.

Left fielder Nick Gordon gambled on Marcus Semien’s sinking line drive in the eighth inning. When the ball got past Gordon, Semien was credited with an RBI triple, and he scored an insurance run on Mitch Garver’s RBI single.

In Sunday’s matinee, Bundy will look to help the Twins salvage the series finale.

While Bundy has struggled on the road this season (2-3, 5.89 ERA), he is 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 11 career appearances (nine starts) versus the Rangers.

The Twins are making their only appearance of the season in Arlington this weekend, and don’t have as much familiarity with the Rangers as they do with some other clubs.

“It’s a lineup that does a little bit of everything,” Baldelli said of the Rangers’ offense. “A few guys that are able to hit the ball over the fence. A few guys that can run, and move around a little bit. When you are facing a new collection of guys, you don’t have time to really figure it out.”

For the Rangers, Dunning is looking for his first win since April 30 against the Atlanta Braves. The 27-year-old’s winless streak is now at 12 straight starts.

Dunning is 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA in three career starts against Minnesota.

Garver, who formerly played for the Twins, is available to play on Sunday. But on Monday, Garver plans on having season-ending surgery to repair a right flexor tendon.

–Field Level Media